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Faithful Breath - Fading Beauty CD (album) cover


Faithful Breath

Symphonic Prog

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4 stars Gorgeous, overlooked and forgotten symphonic gem from 1973 German band Faithful Breath, many years before they were to veer in a completely different (80s metal) direction.

Mellotron fans will be sated with the lengthy, mellotron chord-soaked "Autumn Fantasia" suite which took up the entirety of the original first side of the LP. A haunting and sadly beautiful piece, this is early 70s prog at its grandiose best, and hints of influence (Yes, Genesis) and national contemporaries (Eloy) abound.

The second half of the album is occupied by the 'other' epic, "Tharsis", complete with what I call Young Male Storytelling Lyric Syndrome (or YOMASLYS). For while the track is musically satisfying, it remains silly and amateurish on the lyrical front, although harmless and not without its charm. The sci-fi theme seems roughly to do with the earth being hatched by a mighty bird of some kind. Not the finest lyric you'll come across, but then, neither is "Hemispheres".

All in all, a simply beautiful album that will leave the listener wondering why it is not more revered than it currently is. With enough dramatic intensity, lovely melodies, and lengthy instrumental sections, this album has everything to appease lovers of early Symphonic. The Garden Of Delights pressing of this album is not to be missed, as it contains a nice, thick booklet with rare photos and a brief history of the band (finally!) If this review stirred your curiosity or even just remotely sounds like something you may like, be assured that it is a most worthy addition to your prog collection.

Report this review (#255935)
Posted Sunday, December 13, 2009 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
3 stars This is one of the first Symphonic albums to come out of Germany. And it's nothing like TRIUMVIRAT or even NOVALIS for that matter.This is melancholic and plodding with plenty of synths and mellotron. There are basically two side long suites with the first side being divided into two parts.

The "Autumn Fantasia" suite has no lyrics but there are vocal melodies. The band has this to say about this suite."This is the story of each of us, the story of Autumn, of life's last faithful breath, which contains both the saddest and the most terrified sensation a living individual will ever be able to feel before the everlasting writer gently turns him to nothing". Very uplifting stuff (haha).

"Autumn Fantasia : Fading Beauty" opens with organ and mellotron that lasts for almost 1 1/2 minutes when organ, drums and guitar take over. Drums stop before 6 minutes as acoustic guitar and organ start to lead the way. Drums are back after 7 minutes with prominant bass. Mellotron and picked guitar stands out before 10 minutes. Drums and bass are back before 11 1/2 minutes. It blends into "Autumn Fantasia : Lingering Cold". Powerful organ comes in followed by mellotron and strummed guitar. Vocal melodies too. It starts to pick up with bass out in front. Piano and vocal melodies follow a minute later. Back to mellotron as it continues to change. Piano and vocal melodies end it. "Tharsis" has a lot of lyrics and is this fantasy tale about the end of the earth. Yes these guys have a very positive outlook. Aagin it's slow moving and melancholic with lots of reserved vocals. It does turn chaotic after 19 minutes as we get cries and lots of upheaval. A calm with vocals ends it.

For many this is a classic but I don't agree. It's interesting that FAITHFUL BREATH would become a Metal band in the eighties.

Report this review (#262434)
Posted Monday, January 25, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars I just discovered this obscure gem a couple of days ago and I can't stop listening to it. This is gorgeous, mellotron-drenched prog goodness. One thing I particularly like is the absence of vocals through most of the "Autumn Fantasia" suite. Unfortunately, as with a lot (most?) prog, the vocals and lyrics are the weak link. The songwriting throughout is excellent, as is the musicianship.

IMO, the band they most call to mind is Gabriel-era Genesis. In fact, I keep finding myself imagining Gabriel singing over the arrangements. It would be a fantasy of mine to give these tracks to him and let him record some lyrics over them! At other times, the music is reminiscent of early King Crimson and "Yes Album"-era Yes. One difference between Faithful Breath and those bands though, is that Faithful Breath rarely employ complicated, unorthodox time signatures. Which actually is kind of nice for a change.

This is a 3.5 to 4 star album. If it had a singer/lyricist like Gabriel, Anderson or Lake on top, it would be very close to a 5.

Report this review (#278431)
Posted Sunday, April 18, 2010 | Review Permalink
3 stars Good symph prog from Germany.

Faithful Breath has had a very strange career and output. This is their debut album. It was followed up by a pop-rock album which was as far removed from the symph prog on this album as we are from the planet Mars. That album also gave them a huge hit single. Then they finished off with three heavy metal albums with viking helmet and a high party factor. Albums which is as far removed from their second album and this album as we on our planet is from the planet Venus.

In short; this band is a nutcase. Being a Faithful Breath fan must be like being an inmate in a mental asylum. Oh dear me.

Back to this album which contains spaced out symphonic prog. Unfortunate, some of this stuff here reminds me about the first two minutes of Spinal Tap's epic Stonehenge track. In short, well over the top dramatic melody and vocals lines which only provokes laughter. But those melody lines, which is not that many, is also mixed in with some really great keyboard runs. Most of the music is hymn like too. Well, this is three hymns in fact.

That makes this such a good album too. The spacy Hammond organ is a joy to behold. The vocals is good too. The same goes for the sound and the guitars. My only complaint is that the three epic songs has no variation and is a bit samey. The songs are not that great either. But this is a very good album which comes with my recommodation.

3.5 stars

Report this review (#500685)
Posted Tuesday, August 9, 2011 | Review Permalink
3 stars Let me tell you about a dream I've been having lately. A kneeling figure, the personification of 'Fading Beauty' perhaps, trembles below a sword that hangs above by a single horse- hair. I don't know the meaning of this dream but it nonetheless disturbs me.

I'm also trying to make sense of Faithful Breath's bandpage and I'm genuinely curious about what other members will have made of the recent spate of 1- and 2-star reviews for these German orphans. I'm only familiar with their two prog albums so I have absolutely no comment to make on the merits or de-merits of their non-prog output. Faithful Breath was actually one of the earliest German symphonic bands and this album comprises two sprawling epics that rely heavily on Mellotron and Hammond organ. Keyboards-player Manfred 'Carl' von Buttlar is generally credited with having steered the band in a symphonic direction so it's no surprise that their progressive leanings bit the dust when he left after their second album.

The album itself induces a certain feeling of melancholy and the despairing emotional currents of the hymnal music are matched by its sombre, morbid lyrics. Take for example the narrative of 'Tharsis' in which the planet Earth is the titular bird's egg that will one day hatch, an inevitable event that is heralded by frequent earthquakes. The main themes of this story - the virgin birth of a winged goddess whose spouse, in this case the wind, is an invisible unknown; creation and destruction of the world; the idea of death as a rebirth - have strong echoes of Greek creation myth and the cosmogonic cycle. Talk about being pretentious; I'm sure I've seen this album described somewhere as 'overblown nonsense' but isn't that part of the dictionary definition of symphonic prog? If not, it should be.

Anyway, it's a pity that this highly schismatic band's later output seems to have taken the shine off their first couple of prog albums. 'Fading Beauty' apparently has legendary status as a lost classic in some quarters but just because it's obscure doesn't make it a masterpiece. At best it's a fairly average symphonic album. The material on the sophomore 'Back On My Hill' is actually stronger and more dynamic despite it being a largely song-based album. I seem to be in a minority of one in liking that album though; it's lonely sometimes in the wondrous city of Cloud Cuckoo Land.

Report this review (#511132)
Posted Monday, August 29, 2011 | Review Permalink
Sean Trane
Prog Folk
3 stars AFAIAC, this is FB's only album worth hearing, or even considering for this site's musical scope. Some consider this album one of Germany's better 70's symphonic prog album, and it's not entirely wrong to think so, but there are moments when they sound like they didn't even care if they borrowed openly and with total impunity. Indeed, if the intro of the opening track does not refer you directly to Genesis' Watcher Of The Skies, you're due for an ear and brain check-up urgently?. And you'll find a fair bit more of these moments throughout the album's three tracks. But that's not to say that everything on Fading Beauty sounds borrowed or derivative of some English prog bands. Despite a certain amount of "cloned" ADN, the band did manage some moments where their developed their own personalities at times. In many ways, FB's music is flattering enough to 70's prog lovers that the "inspired dimension" of their music can pass down the throat and be digested fairly easily.
Report this review (#1117883)
Posted Thursday, January 23, 2014 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
2 stars This Germany band was initially a progressive rock band and it later turned out to be a heavy metal one. There is not much that I can get on the history this band which was formed in 1967 as stated in metal library. Fading Beauty is their debut album with the music is mainly comprising long keyboard-drenched music which to me like a jam session. As it was came out in the era of vinyl LP I can understand that the music was produced to fit the LP duration i.e roughly 2 x 22 minutes. Therefore the band made it two tracks at the first side and another long epic at the second side. The first two tracks Autumn Fantasia: Fading Beauty (12:06) and Autumn Fantasia: Lingering Cold (10:26) are actually quite boring to my ears as they are very weak in composition: there are no segments that the band have expressed the music well as they turn out to be like jamming with no prescribed or predetermined tagline melody to follow. It's fine actually if they can demonstrate good musicianships along the way that they produce good composition. Only at the last track Tharsis (21:30) the band is quite successful in creating an interesting music even though not compelling enough to my ears. It seems to me that the band actually can make the music just with 10 minutes duration. In order to fit the full side 2 then they continue the other 10 minutes as the last portion of Tharsis. It is not well done actually, that's why the later part sounds awkward to me.

Overall, this is only good for those who want to have an archive of vintage music and not too much paying attention on how good the composition is. This one deserves two stars. Keep on proggin' ...!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

Report this review (#1132239)
Posted Sunday, February 16, 2014 | Review Permalink
Avant/Cross/Neo/Post Teams
3 stars Not sure why such a superb symphonic combo would shift their music style into simple hard rock, and let me say this album should be one of symphonic progressive rock gems all around the world, especially as for the titled track upon the first side. Cannot say their play or technique be excellent but the potential of this track be incredible definitely.

Their masterpiece "Fading Beauty" ... one of the dreamiest opening is such a quite matured, harmonized mellotron one in the titled track. All through the album Manfred's sharp, and mellow keyboard hurricane should be the driving force behind such a symphonic rock soundscape, no suspicion. This theatrical progression is as splendid as the original classic one, we might suggest. Every scene sounds beautiful and gorgeous like the song title, and it is a pity they would vaporize such an artistic texture.

Of course the other two tracks are awesome too. "Lingering Gold" ... exactly in the same vein of "Fading Beauty" ... shows kaleidoscopic appearance along with complexly rhythmic verses. Also a tragic female chorus is fantastic. And we cannot avoid crying guitar plays. The last longest track "Tharsis", that means a volcanic plain area upon the Mars, is very powerful like a fire, and very challenging like a mysterious space for us. Not so good the voices and the rhythm section are, but dramatic keyboard or mellotron showers can ease us in. The latter part is a tad clumsy for so-called art rock but we can hear their conflict in a dilemma between popularity and artistic motivation. As you may realize, this hard-edged sound explosions might be thought as an advance hint for their drastic style alteration later.

Cannot call this album as a symphonic prog recommendation but I'm sure you would spend a useful moment with the three gems, if you are a symphonic freak.

Report this review (#1426845)
Posted Sunday, June 14, 2015 | Review Permalink

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